Novo Nordisk, Eli Lilly's obesity drugs will lead in new drug sales in 2024: Evaluate

Booming demand for blood sugar-modulating diabetes and obesity drugs became the top trend in the biopharma industry in 2023, with two companies—Novo Nordisk and Eli Lilly—overwhelming the market with their dominance.

Expect more of the same in 2024, according to a recent report from Evaluate, which places Novo and Lilly in the top two spots for global new sales. The analysts peg Novo’s sales increase to approach $8 billion in 2024, while Lilly’s will come in at close to $5 billion.

With the huge revenue gain, Evaluate also sees Novo crashing the top 10 list of pharma companies by sales in 2024, replacing GSK, with the Danish company expected to exceed $40 billion. The figure is more than double the sales that Novo generated in 2020 ($19.4 billion) and is even a massive boost from its revenue of 2022 ($25.1 billion), indicating how quickly demand for the weight-loss products has mushroomed.

Other companies that scored on Evaluate’s 2024 global new sales list are AstraZeneca and Amgen, with gains of more than $4 billion, and Roche, with an increase approaching $4 billion. No other companies are expected to gain new revenues of more than $3 billion.

Others in the top ten are Merck, Pfizer and Sanofi, each with new drug revenue expected to exceed $2 billion, along with GSK and Daiichi Sankyo, which are expected to approach $2 billion in new drug sales.

AZ’s expected performance in 2024 is bolstered by its “broad oncology business,” Evaluate said. The analysts also highlighted the entrance of Daiichi on the list, attributed to the success of its AZ-partnered antibody-drug conjugate cancer treatment Enhertu.

There should be no shame for GSK in failing to remain in the top 10 in overall revenue in 2024, Evaluate says.

“The UK group’s vaccine business has scored a handful of hits in the last few years, most recently in respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) with a stronger than expected launch of Arexvy,” Evaluate analysts wrote. “Its shingles jab Shingrix has also bounced back strongly after the COVID lull.”

As for the future of diabetes and obesity drugs, Evaluate sees Novo and Lilly ruling the space for a while. On its list of top 10 most valuable R&D projects, it lists Novo’s injected CagriSema at No. 1 with a net present value of $30.2 billion and Lilly’s oral orforglipron at No. 2 with a value of $13 billion. The only other product in development with a value of more than $6 billion is Vertex’s cystic fibrosis triplet therapy vanzacaftor at $10.7 billion.

“Novo and Lilly are investing huge sums to ensure they remain market leaders and their follow-on projects are among biopharma’s most valuable R&D assets,” Evaluate explained.

Roche surges to the top in 2024

What company will have the highest overall drug sales in 2024? Evaluate sees Roche taking over the top spot with revenue approaching $54 billion.

In its prediction—tabulated from sell-side analysts’ forecasts—Evaluate figures the big pharma revenue race will be tight however as Johnson & Johnson, Merck, AbbVie and Pfizer are also expected to exceed $50 billion in sales, while AstraZeneca comes up just short of the standard.

It's a long way from 2022, when Pfizer became the first company in biopharma industry history to top the $100 billion mark in annual sales, followed closely by J&J at $95 billion. Declining demand for Pfizer’s pandemic products and J&J’s separation from its consumer health unit Kenvue have left the companies on equal footing with their industry counterparts.

Meanwhile, Evaluate sees Roche thriving in 2024 behind a growing demand for multiple sclerosis drug Ocrevus, cancer treatment Tecentriq and hemophilia therapy Hemlibra. Evaluate also sees Roche with more blockbuster drugs (17) than any company in 2024.

Along with Novo, other companies predicted to be in the top 10 in 2024 sales are Novartis, Bristol Myers Squibb and Sanofi.